When a sobbing Gonzalo Higuain was stretchered off just three minutes before the final whistle of Napoli’s 0-0 draw, countless breaths were figuratively held.
As the distraught Argentinian was removed from the pitch, scary thoughts of next season crept into the minds of supporters and media alike.
Thankfully, the club said their initial post-match diagnosis of heavy bruising was confirmed by tests and no further ankle damage was sustained.
The Serie A season is all but over for Napoli, who are firmly planted in third place, but they still have a Coppa Italia final to contend with this coming weekend against Fiorentina.
“Gonzalo Higuain confirmed yesterday’s diagnosis: severe blunt trauma to the right tibia,” the club said via their official Twitter account. “His condition will be evaluated in the coming days.”
The bruise was sustained as Higuain took a shot that was blocked by Marco Andreolli, and the striker’s follow-through kicked the shin of the Inter defender.
Given the injury – quite a painful one – it’s difficult to see Higuain being available for that Cup final. A deep bone bruise is not only painful but takes a few weeks to fully disappear, and it’s possible Napoli will be forced to use Goran Pandev at the head of the attack.
The ankle problem also throws into question Higuain’s World Cup, with the big dance seven weeks away. It’s likely he’d be available by that time, but it could affect his international training ahead of the event.